Windshield mounted GPS units illegal in half the U.S.

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Careful where you mount a GPS unit, as windshield-mounted GPS is illegal in half the U.S. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A number of states are outlawing satellite navigation units that mount via suction cups to the windshield. Despite the convenience of having the units at eye level, sat nav units are believed to be a cause of distracted driving and therefore a danger.

TomTom can get you a ticket ticket

One of the most popular accessories one can get to improve the driving experience, besides a supercharger, is satellite navigation. Aftermarket stereos, smartphone applications and bespoke navigation units all can help the driver navigate to their respective destination.

However, one had better be careful about where they put it. According to USA Today, a GPS user’s website, POI Factory, recently looked into laws concerning where a GPS unit is mounted after some members complained of being ticketed for mounting GPS units on the interior of the windshield via suction cups, a common mounting implement for GPS units.

POI found that a number of states prohibit mounting GPS units on the windshield. In fact, more than half the states of the nation does. All told, windshield-mounted GPS units are illegal in 26 states and, according to POI Factory, Washington, D.C.

Laws vary in remaining states

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Aside from states that outlaw windshield mounting outright, some define areas of the windshield where it can be mounted. Eight states, those being Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii, Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland, have laws defining where a driver can mount a GPS unit.

Only 15 states, those being Alaska, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine allow a windshield-mounted GPS unit.

The area in which the sat-nav unit can be located differs by state, so residents of the states which allow limited windshield mounting should research their respective state’s laws. People who frequently travel out of state should probably play it safe and mount their sat-nav on the dashboard.

Perhaps for good reason

Though “nanny state” regulations may be annoying to some, distracted driving is a serious danger. GPS navigation, as well as infotainment systems and cellular phones, can be distracting.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to AutoGuide, recently issued guidelines for sat-navs that should avoid distraction, saying that it had determined through studies that “dynamic” maps, or continuously moving maps are distracting, as well as large amounts of text.

In England, there seems to be a bit more coverage of the subject. According to the Telegraph, a survey by researchers from Lancaster University and Royal Holloway College, London, found 19 percent of respondents were distracted by their satellite navigation equipment.

Sat-nav distraction, according to the Daily Mail, was ruled to have caused a fatal motorcycle accident near Leicester in 2010. A satellite navigation unit caused a fatality in June 2011, when it fell out of its windshield mounting and the driver looked away from the wheel to pick it up in Telford, according to The Daily Echo. The driver struck a bicyclist on a charity ride, resulting in the man’s death.


USA Today

POI Factory


The Telegraph:

Daily Mail:

Daily Echo:

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